If the holy trinity of winter jackets—the down puffer, the wool topcoat, and the denim jacket—already has a place in your coat closet, you might think your outerwear arsenal is fit to take on the season. But if you don’t have a waxed canvas jacket in the mix, you’re missing out on a staple that has serious versatility and only gets better with age. While modern waterproof materials like Gore-Tex and DWR coatings might require less maintenance (you’ll need to re-wax your waxed cotton goods every now and then), there’s simply no competition when it comes to style. The waxed canvas jacket wins every time.
The origin of waxed canvas garments stretches back to the 17th century. Realizing ship’s sails catch more wind when wet, Scottish and English mariners began greasing them with fish oils: It provided the same effect, but the oils prevented the sails from absorbing moisture, which would weigh the ship down. Fabric manufacturers British Millerain and Halley Stevensons in Scotland took note, and they adapted that logic to produce and patent their own weatherproof waxed cotton materials. These fabrics soon became an ideal material for making lightweight but incredibly sturdy weatherproof bags and protective outerwear.
Those two heritage names are still the leading purveyors of waxed canvas today. They’re used by a number of acclaimed menswear brands, including Belstaff, Filson, and Flint and Tinder, plus by legendary outdoor outfitters, like Barbour and Orvis. Today’s waxed canvas jackets come in many easy-to-layer styles and silhouettes, but no matter which you choose, they’ll keep you dry and comfortable through all kinds of winter weather. And once you pick one, it’ll develop unique creases and colorations the more you wear it. Want to put one in your closet? These are our top picks.
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This Flint and Tinder waxed trucker jacket was sported by Pedro Pascal on The Last of Us. While you (hopefully) won’t need a jacket that’s durable enough to survive a zombie apocalypse, it’s nice to know it could.
This waxed trucker jacket is made in America with a sturdy Martexin sailcloth fabric that’s embedded with extreme weather-proofing technology. The jacket comes in seven different colorways—perfect for layering over any winter outfit. Its price point makes it a notable bargain, especially considering it’s fully lined with warm, super-soft flannel.
Taylor Stitch is a brand that likes to put its own innovative spin on staples like t-shirts, men’s joggers, and button-down shirts. But they’re also serving up tasty renditions of more complex pieces like men’s waxed jackets. The brand’s Pathfinder jacket is coated using a proprietary dry wax method that allows it to stand up to wet weather and frigid winds. Available in both deep navy and olive green, this waxed jacket’s much-desired features include seven total pockets (two chest pockets, two patch pockets with side entry, and an internal chest pocket) alongside a two-way zipper with button closure and a hidden throat latch for sealing in warmth.
The Bedale Jacket is a classic piece of outerwear first released in 1980. It was originally designed for equestrians: Its shorter length and generous fit were tailored for riding on horseback. The modern version is constructed with a waterproof 6-ounce waxed cotton and utilizes Barbour’s signature tartan cotton lining for warmth. The hard-wearing Bedale is fashioned with a soft corduroy collar and moleskin-lined handwarmer pockets; and elasticated cuffs and a studded front placket provide extra protection from cold, wet weather.
For an authentic, home-on-the-range look, the Filson Short Lined Cruiser jacket—worn by ranch foreman Rip (Cole Hauser) on hit western Yellowstone—is where it’s at. Crafted from Filson’s legendary Tin Cloth, a burly waxed canvas that’ll withstand years of abuse, has the iconic American trucker jacket silhouette. This Cruiser is also up for colder weather as it’s lined with a medium-weight cotton duck fabric and has nylon sleeve liners to easily slip over layers.
The latest version of Kuhl’s wax-coated Kollusion Jacket is an affordable, highly practical garment to wear for any outdoor pursuit. It’s breathable and slightly stretchy, so you won’t feel hot or constricted when shoveling your front walk; comes with a generous amount of pocket space; and the hood can be rolled up and stored inside a zip pocket at the collar. At this price, it’s hard to find a better combination of all-day performance and waxed canvas style.
They’re best known as a footwear brand, but Cole Haan offers a wide selection of outerwear and accessories like this sleek but rugged waxed cotton canvas jacket. Cole Haan’s modernized take on the waxed jacket swaps traditional paraffin for a polyurethane coating, giving the jacket a sleeker, less waxy look. Match this waxed jacket, in your choice of black, navy, or olive, with a pair of Cole Haan waterproof boots for a smart, city-ready look.
Keeping dry is easier with a longer jacket like Orvis’ Heritage Field Coat, which hits near the thigh to help keep your legs dry in inclement weather. The rugged barn jacket-style coat looks excellent with a warm flannel and denim, but it can also be dressed up. The jacket has plenty of pockets for secure storage, a full zip front with button closure, and is available in neutral olive and tobacco shades. With the Orvis name backing this jacket, it’s safe to feel just as confident in its performance when facing the elements as you would in its ability to make you look good.
Huckberry’s own Flint and Tinder makes some of the best waxed jackets on the market. If you prefer an option with a little more storage than the brand’s Waxed Trucker Jacket, their barn jacket has four large flap pockets alongside a handy interior pocket. The Bedford cord fabric has a pleasantly textured hand-feel, similar to a fine wale corduroy. It also offers better coverage than its counterpart with an extended collar and zip closure.
The chore jacket originated in 19th-century France and was worn by laborers who needed outerwear with convenient pockets for their tools. Parisian luxury label A.P.C. offers an updated take on the classic chore coat with a contrasting corduroy collar and light padding for warmth. The all-cotton fabric is waxed for water resistance and to create an appealing hand feel.
The Bedale jacket is Barbour’s most recognizable style. Though iconic, it’s not the brand’s only waxed canvas jacket. The Barbour Sapper jacket is inspired by military field jackets, with four secure flap pockets on the front of the jacket and an additional zippered pocket. It’s built to brave the elements; there’s a warm quilted lining and a packable waterproof hood, in addition to the waterproof waxed coating that Barbour is known for. It’s the kind of jacket that will make you wish for foul weather.
No list of waxed jackets would be complete without Belstaff, a British label known for making durable jackets designed to keep wearers comfortable while motorcycling in England’s famously pleasant weather. The Racemaster is a streamlined version of the Trailmaster, featuring two chest pockets, zippered hand pockets, and an adjustable funnel neck that provides warmth. The cropped cut is comfortable for motorcycle rides, but it looks great on non-bikers, too.
Related: The Best Men’s Flannel Shirts for Fall 2023